Did you know that one in every 111 people in the UK have a facial disfigurement, from marks, scars, skin conditions, or even congenital conditions that affect the shape of the head and facial features – but these things don’t just affect people physically, they can change the way we live our lives.
We are all guilty of looking in the mirror or at photos of ourselves, and pointing out what we deem to be our imperfections, but what we don’t realise is that through the eyes of someone else, we are seen as everything but imperfect (quite an elightening thought if we’re honest).
Portrait Positive is a project (and a book of the same name) created by Stephen Bell and Designer Steven Tai, with photography by Rankin, to support charity Changing Faces, and bring more awareness to being proud of who we are, and embracing our own unique beauty,
Changing Faces is a charity that enables people who have disfigurements to develop self-esteem and self-confidence – because its these so-called imperfections that makes each of us unique and beautiful.
Becky Hewitt, CEO of Changing Faces said: “As a charity that supports people with visible
differences, we are delighted to be part of a movement that challenges the way the fashion industry represents difference. We want to break down barriers and change the narrow view of beauty that exists in society, especially in the fashion industry. These amazing images by Rankin will help to address the stigma around ‘looking different’ and show that true beauty is about being proud to be yourself. We want to see brands, publications and designers work with real people of all appearances so that fashion is accessible to all”
London Fashion Week saw the presentation of this project (video below), with the stunning women from the campaign proudly modelling designs by Steven Tai.
Not only did they feature at LFW, but this campaign has gone viral, and rightly so, as facial and body disfigurement is still massively underrepresented across media of all channels, and yet many of us can relate to having an area of ourselves that we deem ‘imperfect’.
So let’s meet some of the beautiful heroines from the campaign…
This is Chloe:
My overall condition is called Klippel Trenaunay Weber Syndrome, the most obvious feature of which is a port-wine stain birthmark which covers about 60% of my face and body. My lower lip is noticeably larger than normal. I also have glaucoma in my left eye. Day-to-day it doesn’t really affect me much, but over time I have had numerous surgeries and hospital interventions. Sometimes I feel self-conscious about how I look. Generally though, I am happy and it doesn’t stop me doing anything.
This is Emily:
Being born with a unilateral cleft palate always made me more aware of everyone else around me and the fact no one else really had any idea what it was. After being at university for the past year and a half I was still surprised that some of my tutors aged 30+ had no idea what one was and had never heard of one. I was surprised by the lack of awareness to such things and this made me realise how important projects such as this one are.. I’ve always felt like I’ve stood out in some way, it always slightly bothered me but I just learnt there is nothing I can do — everyone is different and I just had to try and embrace it somehow. This awareness to everyone around me, in my opinion, has made me into the person I am today. A lot of people, particularly my generation are very judgemental, especially when it comes to appearance and I suppose this is why I’ve always been quite accepting of people; which I think is why I’ve got an amazing group of friends. Having such a supportive group of friends makes everything that I’ve had to go through worth it, as I have made friends for life — as cheesy as that sounds!
This is Raiche:
I was burned in a house fire at the age of 18 months, as a result I had 70% burns to my face and body. I lost a few fingers, toes, facial features and hair, along with my balance. Now 24, I am on a mission to set up a charity to support adult burns survivors and to be an advocate for acceptance, inspiring change and redefining beauty standards.
We love you ladies and think this campaign is redefining what the media deems as ‘beautiful’ and we know this will help to so many people across the globe to know that their ‘so-called’ imperfections make them who they are, and we are all beautiful, so lets embrace that and continue changing the face of fashion together.
The Portrait Positive Book designed by the Carter Studio features the portraits of all 16 women photographed by Rankin and will launch on Tuesday 25th September 2018, and will be available to purchase on the Portrait Positive website globally as well as selects stores, boutiques, and art spaces across the UK – with all proceeds going to the Changing Faces charity.
You can check out the rest of the campaign images below: